Exploring how Syrian women manage their health after migration to Germany: results of a qualitative study

Salma Kikhia, Ghaith Gharib, Alexandra Sauter, Natalia Caldeira Loss Vincens, Julika Loss
2021 BMC Women's Health  
Background In the recent years, the number of Syrians living in Germany increased drastically due to the massive displacement caused by the Syrian conflict. Syrian migrant women in Germany are challenged by both the migration process and the changing of social roles. Seeking out healthcare may be hampered by linguistic and cultural barriers, but the new context may offer opportunities for health and well-being (free access to health care, civil/human rights). Little is known about how Syrian
more » ... about how Syrian women manage their health after their resettlement in Germany. Methods In depth interviews in Arabic were conducted with 9 Syrian women who were recruited through purposive sampling (18–55 years, migrated in 2011–2017, different education levels), focusing on capabilities to control one's health and to navigate the German healthcare system, and social/environmental barriers and facilitators to effectively manage their health. Interview transcripts were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Results The women reported their health to be impaired by post-migration stressors, such as perceived discrimination, loss of social status and worrying about the future. Many interviewees felt disempowered and incompetent to successfully and actively navigate the German healthcare system, lacking information and not understanding their rights and options under the health insurance plan. The language barrier added to feeling vulnerable. Many women experienced doctors declining to treat them for capacity reasons; when treated, they often did not feel taken seriously or were dissatisfied with the emotional/cultural aspects of care. If possible, Arabic doctors were sought out. Some women, however, described improved resources for health, and appreciated better women's rights as a source of power. Conclusions The lack of information about the structure and offers of the German healthcare system, language and culture specific barriers as well as socio-cultural challenges are undermining the ability of Syrian women to manage their health effectively after their resettlement in Germany. Providing tailored information on the German healthcare system, creating a health-literacy supportive environment, and improving cultural sensitivity in healthcare provision could help Syrian women better utilize medical care offered in Germany.
doi:10.1186/s12905-021-01193-9 pmid:33531000 fatcat:accwo6e7qjb7lfmbkw46yvjjl4